Traveling by train in Tuscany has three advantages, including a wide network of routes, a variety of train types and a flexible system of discounts. Railway connection is so well-developed, that even small towns have stations of their own. You can decide to travel by train just because of local colorful sights you will see on your way.
According to the distance and service, Italian railways offer trains of next classes:
- Reg Regionale, Diretti, IR Interregionali (a kind of suburban trains, which connect a number of regions, stop almost at every station and don't have private compartments),
- ES Eurostar (the fastest trains, which go between main Italian cities, have 1st and 2nd class compartments, and require seat booking),
- IC Intercity (fast trains, which connect not only Italian cities but also cities abroad, have compartments for 4-6 passengers, seats are booked for extra fee),
- EC Eurocity (connect Italian cities, have compartments for 4-6 passengers, seats are booked for extra fee),
- EXP Espressi (don't stop, have not only seats but also bunks, you have a specified seat for a specified train).
Each Eurocity train, and some Espressi trains have their unique names like ships.
For Intercity and Eurcoity trains you can by a ticket without a seat number. That means that you can take any vacant one. Just keep in mind that you should choose a seat according to your ticket class, as there is a fine for taking a first class seat with a second class ticket.
The information concerning which seat from which station is booked is displayed on a compartment door. It's better not to take these seats, as you will anyway have to give it. By this time, there will probably be no vacant seats left, and you will have to sit on a folding seat in the aisle.
Helpful members of station staff are always ready to advise on the choice of the most suitable tariff. To make it easier, provide all required information: age, whether a passenger is a student or a pupil, the number of members in a group, etc. If you plan to travel regularly, you can get a discount card.
You can buy tickets not only at a ticket-office, but also with the help of an automatic terminal. It is going to be more expensive in the latter case, but you have an opportunity to learn the timetable and make up a convenient route in case you need to make transfers. The terminal takes cash and credit cards, and gives change.
Do not forget to punch your ticket in the yellow terminal with a luminescent window before boarding the train. Such terminals are usually located near the platform entrance or in the underground passages leading to the platform. The expiration date and time will be printed on the ticket. A ticket is valid for 24 hours for trips longer than 200 km, and 6 hours for shorter distances. Thus, you can switch trains and stations with one ticket. If the expiry time happens on the way, you are allowed to reach your station.
In case there are no terminals at the station or they do not function it is recommended to address the train staff before boarding or right after it. A conductor will make a note on the ticket and you will not be fined. If you haven't punched your ticket in time, you will have to pay 8 euro for this service. The fine for an unpunched ticket is 16 euro. Tickets are checked almost at every station in Italy.
Espresso train tickets shouldn't be punched as they are for a certain time and a certain train. Thus, it is not possible to change the route with such a ticket. An unpunched ticket for Intercity trains is good for two months. You can return it during this period at the place of purchase by showing your ID and the credit card you used to pay for it. You will loose at least 8 euro or 20% of the ticket cost.